We have played at holiday craft fairs, in church basements, at the VFW Hall, at antiques shows, at the flea market (Hollis) -- and I am glad we have, even proud to say that we have. You can't parse too much w/ "family entertainment." All music ideally should be entertaining to all the families and friends, yes siree bob. I joke around, and say that puppet shows and pie-eating contests are our special-ity. Why not?
Since 2011, our group has principally played at the farmer's markets in Concord, Tilton, Hillsboro, Milford, Salem, Nashua, New Boston, Bedford, Newmarket, Auburn, Weare and Amherst NH, and in Haverhill, MA.
Some musicians, I have come to realize, view the farmer's market as a low-priority gig -- possibly as more of a community-dues paying opportunity, or as the sole province of musicians just desperate to play out, all the time, or who just want to shed -- which it is. But I tell you that our group as it stands today would not exist without the farmer's market, so we take playing music at the farmer's market seriously.
It all comes down to delivering a level busk, some might be off the cuff, some you know by heart. It's a bunch of moments happening all strung together right then. Like always with music, you do it as best you can, to the best of your ability -- and if with others, f- yeah! Even better. You all get together, put your best sounds into the air, into time...and sometimes, if you're lucky, people really hear it -- some might even like it.
Because they do appreciate good music at the farmer's market -- they really want to hear it, see it, listen to it...be around it. Coincidentally, these are usually the exact conditions required to make good music and gain engaged fans.
The farmers market is usually a 3 or 4 hour engagement; most times, we play close to the entire time. It's a win-win for everyone. It's background music, but also a performance. It's a gig, but also good practice. It's about making it sound good, but you can try new things out. It's good networking. You meet people, form friendly work-centered relationships, in service of a common cause, that recur over the seasons. Nice.
Also, many, if not most paid engagements for our group have come from being seen and heard playing at the farmer's market. People are thirsty for live music, especially issuing from wooden and wind instruments, happening in the air around them, at a particular time. People have an absolute, palpable thirst for it -- I really believe it, because I have seen it.
-- Matt Vincent, Cow Hampshire Folk (CH Folk)
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